Sandys 360 pair try to set up new charity

  • Stanley Lee
  • Melvyn Bassett

Two of the men behind a failed sports centre that swallowed up millions of tax dollars are trying to revive another charity.

Melvyn Bassett was managing director of Sandys 360,

and former treasurer Stanley Lee handled the finances of Sandys 360.

Now they have applied for charitable status for an organisation called the Youth Development Foundation.

The pair outlined their plan to appeal for donations to individuals, groups and the corporate sector in order to run a “full range of programming in education, health, recreation, the arts and sports” in an application to the Charity Commissioners.

The commissioners made a recommendation that allowed YDF to gain charitable status in 2016 but deferred a recommendation on whether it should be renewed a year later. They are still considering the application.

Sandys 360 closed in late 2013, after taxpayers forked out at least $5.3 million on the centre, limited disclosures made under public access to information revealed.

The organisation still owes the Government $807,000 for a grant paid out by mistake, as well as an unknown amount in unpaid land taxes, payroll taxes and social insurance.

As well as taxpayer cash, the facility on Broome Street, Somerset, benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from businesses and the general public.

Parliament approved a plan this year for the Government to buy the centre and the land it stands on for $1 million.

Mr Lee ended up as chairman of Sandys 360, after years as treasurer.

He provided the Registry-General with the unaudited final financial statements for the sports centre in August 2016.

He wrote in an accompanying letter that any “remaining funds” left in Sandys 360’s coffers would be “transferred to the new proposed charity Youth Development, as required under the regulations of the Charities Commission”.

It is not clear from his letter or from the financial statements, which are available for the public to view, whether any funds remained or were transferred.

A spokeswoman for the Registry-General said the Charity Commissioners and the Registry-General did not follow up on what happened to any funds still held by Sandys 360 when its charitable status expired in May 2014.

The spokeswoman added: “Under the Charities Act 2014, charities are required to have a dissolution clause in their governing documents stating that, upon winding up, any net assets held by the charity will be transferred to another charity having similar aims and purposes.

“Please note, however, that Sandys 360 would not have been subject to this requirement as the Charities Act 2014 did not come into force until December 31, 2014 — almost eight months after the charity’s registration under the Charities Act 1978 expired.”

Mr Lee, who was listed as treasurer of the Youth Development Foundation on the charity application, declined to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette.

Dr Bassett, who was listed as YDF chairman, could not be contacted for comment.

The Registry-General spokeswoman said that the Youth Development Foundation was granted charitable status on June 7, 2016.

She added: “The Youth Development Foundation’s registration expired on June 6, 2017.

“The organisation sent an application to reregister, but the application was deferred by the Charity Commissioners as they requested more information.

“The application was most recently considered at the meeting held on March 6, 2018, and was deferred once again as the commissioners have requested further information.”

The Charity Commissioners were chaired by Richard Ambrosio when YDF’s application was first approved and when renewal was deferred a year later. He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment this week.

A new board of Charity Commissioners, chaired by Tonesan Amissah, has been appointed and may have considered YDF’s application at its first meeting this month.

Ms Amissah also could not be contacted.

The Registry-General spokeswoman said yesterday: “There is no further update at this time.”

Dr Bassett and Mr Lee disclosed their connection to the now-shuttered Sandys 360 facility to the Charity Commissioners.

They wrote in April 2016: “The establishment of the Youth Development Foundation includes two principals of the former Sandys 360 charity, which was discontinued with the closure of the Sandys 360 centre.

“Both the Sandys Secondary School Trustees, owners of the property upon which the 360 centre sits, and the Sandys 360 centre, are in a state of insolvency and will be moving into voluntary liquidation in the next few months.

“This attachment is to advise of the above matters but to also state that this application is in no way associated with

the two entities mentioned above.”

Officers behind the failed sports centre

Melvyn Bassett

Melvyn Bassett, who retired as principal of Sandys Secondary Middle School in 2007, was the salaried managing director of Sandys 360 between 2009 and 2013.

Throughout his tenure as managing director, he was also one of the principal officers of the charity set up to raise money for the centre.

In 2002, while still school principal, Dr Bassett was the administrator of the Sandys Secondary School Foundation when it applied for charitable status in order to raise and invest funds for the purpose of establishing and managing a sports centre.

The foundation was registered as charity #644 in January 2004. According to its financial statements, it appears to have briefly gone by the name Sandys Beyond 2000 before applying to the Registry-General to change its name to the Sandys 360 Foundation in December 2008. Dr Bassett was listed as the foundation’s deputy chairman.

He remained deputy chairman in April 2012, when the Sandys 360 Foundation submitted information on its principal officers to the Registry-General.

In May 2013, the foundation’s charitable status was cancelled. A spokeswoman for the Registry-General said: “The organisation transferred/reregistered as Sandys 360.”

The new charity Sandys 360 was registered as #945 and its charitable status expired on May 15, 2014.

Dr Bassett was also one of the directors, along with Stanley Lee and Doyle Butterfield, of a limited liability local company (#43424) called Sandys 360, which was incorporated in August 2009.

Although he was named as a trustee of Sandys Secondary Middle School on the sale and purchase agreement for Sandys 360 tabled recently in Parliament, The Royal Gazette understands that Dr Bassett is not a trustee of the school and never has been.

He is the president of Preserve Marriage, a registered charity which is opposed to same-sex marriage. The organisation lost its charitable status last year but regained it after appealing to home affairs minister Walton Brown.

Stanley Lee

As a trustee of Sandys Secondary Middle School, Stanley Lee was involved with plans for a community sports centre and indoor swimming pool from the outset.

Mr Lee was listed as the treasurer of the Sandys Secondary School Foundation when it applied to change its name to the Sandys 360 Foundation in 2008. He was still treasurer in April 2012, when he submitted information on Sandys 360’s principal officers to the Registry-General.

In April 2013, he was referred to as Sandys 360 acting chairman in an article in The Royal Gazette on the facility’s financial difficulties.

The following month, the foundation’s charitable status was cancelled and it reregistered as a new charity, with the shortened name Sandys 360.

In a letter sent to the Registry-General in August 2016, Mr Lee refers to himself as the chairman of Sandys 360.